In recent times, Afrobeat has captured the hearts of listeners worldwide with its catchy beats and infectious dance moves. This genre has transcended borders and cultures, becoming a global sensation. Celebrated artists like Burna Boy, Davido, and Wizkid have not only garnered international acclaim but have also received prestigious awards such as the BET Awards and the Grammys.
However, the influence of Afrobeat artists goes beyond their music. Their lavish lifestyles, characterised by a fleet of luxurious cars and a penchant for high-end fashion, have unintentionally fueled a fascination with quick wealth. This phenomenon has had a significant impact on how Nigerian youths perceive affluence. It is essential to delve into the consequences of this trend and explore potential solutions to address this growing concern.
In this thought-provoking article, we aim to examine the influence of Afrobeat artists on the perception of riches among Nigerian youth, analyse its implications, and propose possible remedies for this emerging societal issue.
The Glorification of Riches by Afrobeat Artists and the Wider Implication
In Nigeria, material possessions hold significant value as symbols of power, success, and social status. Celebrities in the country understand the cultural importance placed on material wealth and often incorporate it into their public personas. They actively showcase their luxurious lifestyles, featuring collections of high-end cars like Ferrari and Maybach, designer clothing, extravagant jewellery, and grand mansions worth billions of Naira. By doing so, they present themselves as epitomes of success, power, and social status.
This emphasis on material possessions is particularly evident in the music industry, where artists like Davido, Wizkid, and Burna Boy frequently parade ostentatious lifestyles in their music videos, further solidifying the association of riches with public material flaunting as success. The culture of gloating and brandishing material riches is not a prerogative of Afrobeat artists; it stretches back to politicians who embezzle public funds and the association of material possession as the epitome of success. Such culture has settled deep into the Nigerian lifestyle, from which Afrobeat artists, being the product of that culture, are bound to reflect the practise into their music culture. The under-35s, who make up almost three-quarters of the Nigerian population, are exactly the age group profoundly entangled in the music genre.
Nigeria is a poor country with a surge in the last decade and a half of middle-incomers whose access to American culture in general defined their reality. Bestridden between the conservative values of the intermingled Nigerian cultural variations and the secular leftist American culture, this age group basically interchangeably applies the cultural blend, thus yielding a distinct outcome somewhat in collision with the reality of the overforties. The impact of the African American music brand intoxicated Nigerian society deeper than any other brand. In them, Nigerians saw themselves; the impact of the colour of their skin and racial brotherhood made acceptance of African American culture easiest.
The Birth of a Generation Whose Reality is at Loggerheads with Their Predecessor:
Designer cars, nude or semi-nude girls, sexual references, exotic homes, and countless other designed-to-impress ostentatious lifestyles that culminated the African American music industry, however indistinctly interpreted by Nigerians, are being replicated in the constitution of Afrobeat—even taken to another level. “Why don’t they cover up? Children should not be watching this kind of music,” echoed a bystander in a barbershop where such music videos are a mainstay. He looked over forty by the look. Such a display of material riches and nudity was met with a brick wall in Northern Nigeria, where Islamic conservatism is non-negotiable. The lavish style of Afrobeat artists is not well indulged in the North, where modesty, filial piety, and adherence to Islamic doctrine are of utmost importance.
The emphasis on material possessions as indicators of power and social status by Afrobeat artists has inadvertently fostered a fascination with rapid wealth acquisition among the younger generation.
The display of material possessions by Afrobeat artists goes beyond mere exhibition; it profoundly shapes the aspirations and expectations of Nigerian youths. They have a significant sway over the dreams and ambitions of the younger generation.
Younger people often make role models out of prominent people. When artists who are the prominent of their time proudly showcase their fleet of opulent material possessions, it sparks a sense of awe and admiration, thus invoking a want-to-be-like-them motivation typical of ‘role modelism’, as I coined it. It indirectly implies that owning such luxury items represents an extraordinary accomplishment and exudes an aura of affluence. Furthermore, their meticulous attention to details in their appearances, accompanied by luxury accessories, further reinforces the notion that material wealth translates into elevated status and undeniable prestige.
This emphasis on material possessions as indicators of power and social status by Afrobeat artists has inadvertently fostered a fascination with “balling culture” among the younger generation. It instills the belief that the acquisition of material wealth not only signifies personal achievements but also guarantees acceptance and admiration from society. Consequently, many young Nigerians aspire to attain similar levels of wealth and material possessions, driven by the hope that it will lead to a life filled with respect, admiration, and a profound sense of fulfilment.
The influence of material possessions showcased by Afrobeat artists extends beyond aspirations and expectations; it also impacts career choices and attitudes towards education among Nigerian youths. The glorification of wealth and opulent lifestyles can shape their perceptions of success and prioritise immediate financial gains over long-term career development.
This narrative, coupled with the temptations of a quick-money mindset, may influence young individuals to prioritise careers that offer rapid wealth accumulation, such as pursuing music or entertainment, without fully considering their personal interests or long-term goals. A celebrity career is a niche one where less than 1% of society breaks in; with the Nigerian mainstream’s vociferous promulgation of such careers as the ideal achievement over impactful, long-term, and societally beneficial ones like the STEM field, a shortage in the economy is bound to be felt if intervention is not proactively injected by the government.
As a result, we may witness a significant societal shift from what really matters to the touches of momentary pleasure engraved on music videos. The long-term impact of this has destructive foundational consequences. It takes decades to shift holistic cultural norms; the current climax of Afrobeat artists opulence took decades to nurture; coming out of it would take nothing less, if not more. Unless careful groundwork is laid from the top all the way down, this current trend could have far-reaching consequences.
Additionally, this new mindset has the potential to devalue education and diminish the motivation to invest time and effort in pursuing higher education or acquiring specialised skills. It is worrisome to think about the possible effects of such a shift on the overall development and progress of individuals and society as a whole.
Effects of the Portrayal of an Extravagant Lifestyle as a Symbol of Social Status:
The prevalence of a quick-money mindset, influenced by the extravagant lifestyles of Afrobeat artists, has had a profound impact on Nigerian youths, with one notable effect being the surge in internet fraud, particularly among boys. The allure of quick wealth and the lavish displays of opulence by these artists have inadvertently fueled a desire for instant riches without the willingness to put in the necessary work.
With the rise of internet fraud, many young boys are drawn to the idea of “balling—living a lavish lifestyle without engaging in legitimate work. To make matters worse, their largesse is promoted in every branch of society, from churches to schools, social events, and even political gatherings. This phenomenon has led to a detrimental shift in mindset, where some youths no longer aspire to pursue education or traditional employment opportunities. Instead, they see fraudulent activities as a means to make fast money, mirroring the perceived success of their music idols.
Additionally, the rise of consumerism in culture is deeply concerning. The pressure to maintain a certain image and social status, fuelled by the influence of these idols, pushes young individuals to prioritise instant gratification over financial prudence. The desire to showcase a seemingly glamorous and affluent lifestyle on social media further intensifies this trend, as young people feel compelled to constantly update their profiles with images of luxury purchases and extravagant experiences. Within this culture of consumerism, the importance of saving money and planning for the future often takes a backseat. The focus shifts towards acquiring material possessions and experiences that align with current trends rather than building a solid financial foundation. Over time, individuals may find themselves ill-prepared for unexpected expenses, emergencies, or future financial goals.
It is important to implement financial literacy programmes within schools and communities to educate youth about financial management. These programmes would include essential topics like budgeting, saving, and investing. By instilling an understanding of long-term financial planning, we can empower them to navigate the complexities of the modern financial landscape.
Furthermore, it is pertinent for the media to also highlight individuals who have achieved success through various means beyond mere material wealth. By doing so, we can expand the conventional definition of success.
Writer: – Chidimma Onwuokwu –
Contributor: – Ikechukwu Orji –